From Dave Whaley, President of the Idaho AFL-CIO:
IDAHO LEGISLATURE ATTACKS WORKING FAMILIES
Idahoans have been inundated with misinformation and innuendos that unions are the reason Idaho is in such dire economic straits. They are expected to believe that only by diminishing the unions so called ‘power’ and getting rid of ‘big union bosses’ will Idaho be able to recover from this economic crisis.
Let’s set the record straight. Middle class workers in Idaho are what make the UNION. They are the well trained and highly skilled Operators and Ironworkers who build your schools, roads and bridges. UNION Electricians wire your homes and businesses. UNION Plumbers & Fitters install the medical gas piping used in hospital surgery rooms. UNION Sheet Metal workers install the duct work in your homes and businesses for heating and air conditioning. UNION Postal workers deliver your mail and UNION checkers help you at the grocery store. UNION Communication Workers install your telephones. UNION Steelworkers make your paper products and UNION Machinists produce lumber for your houses. Those same UNION workers attend church with you and volunteer in your community. They are your neighbors and your friends. They choose to belong to a UNION just as many other Idaho workers have chosen to belong to associations or councils.
Idaho’s focus should be on creating living wage jobs and restoring the middle class. Public employees like our teachers, firefighters and police are essential to the well-being of our communities. Attacks on Idaho’s middle class are not the answer to economic recovery nor are the continued tax breaks being handed out to big businesses. Economic recovery can only happen if everyone takes responsibility, including corporations.
Idaho needs to have a balanced budget but that doesn’t mean destroying tomorrow’s future to do it. It’s time for action, not political rhetoric. Idaho’s small businesses and our communities are in a crisis. This crisis will not be solved by cutting essential services that affect the well-being of our families and communities. We must invest in job creation—to rebuild our crumbling schools and roads—to lead in green technology. The most effective way to reduce our deficit is to create jobs, thereby contributing to the tax base and growing the middle class. Unions bring people together and use the strength of the members to protect the well-being of our families and communities. Workers, acting together through their unions, are the last best defense to stop the attacks on the middle class. Without unions we cannot restore balance to our economy and those attacks will go unanswered.
Dave Whaley, President
Idaho State AFL-CIO
The letter comes one day after the Idaho House passed two bills to limit the power of unions. The bills have already passed the Senate.
From the Associated Press:
The first prohibits “project labor agreements” requiring contractors to forge pacts with unions as a condition of winning government construction jobs. The second forbids unions from using membership dues to subsidize wages to help contractors with union workers win projects.
After the November 2010 election solidified Idaho’s GOP majority, conservatives in both the state Senate and House have gone after unions with gusto. Idaho is already a right-to-work state, where workers haven’t been required to join unions as a job condition since 1985.
The teachers' union has also been blasted by supporters of school superintendent Tom Luna's education-reform bills. The bills would eliminate continuing contracts for teachers and limit collective bargaining to wages and benefits.